[ASC-media] Media release: Save what remain of our reefs, scientists urge

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Mon Jul 9 01:15:04 CEST 2012

:: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
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Save what remain of our reefs, scientists urge

Monday, July 9, 2012 – for immediate release

CAIRNS, Australia: With coral reefs around the world in rapid decline, it is imperative we make every effort to save the rest, say the world’s most top marine researchers, who are gathered in Australia this week for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium.

In an unprecedented move, more than 2500 of the world’s top marine researchers today released their Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs. 

It calls for a worldwide effort to overcome growing threats to coral ecosystems and to the livelihoods hundreds of millions of people who depend on them. 

In particular it urges measures to head off the escalating damage caused by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution from the land. See: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/icrs2012/Consensus_Statement.htm

Professor Terry Hughes, Convener of the Symposium and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies says “When it comes to coral reefs, prevention is better than cure. If we look after the Great Barrier Reef better than we do now, it will continue to support a vibrant tourism industry into the future.” 

“Unfortunately, in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible before the transition to alternative sources of energy occurs, has pushed environmental concerns far into the background.

“Australia needs to improve governance of the Great Barrier Reef, particularly coastal development and runoff, to avoid it being inscribed by UNESCO on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

“While there has been much progress in establishing marine reserves around the coastline of Australia, marine parks do not prevent pollution from the land, or lessen the impact of shipping and port developments, or reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses," he says.

“There is a window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change – but it is closing rapidly,” he adds.

Meantime, there are plenty of positive local actions that can also be taken, such as:
•	Rebuild fish stocks to restore key ecosystem functions 
•	Reduce runoff and pollutants from the land
•	Reduce destruction of mangrove, seagrass and coral reef habitats
•	Protect key ecosystems by establishing marine protected areas
•	Rebuild populations of large animals such as dugongs and turtles
•	Promote reef tourism and sustainable fishing rather than destructive industries
•	Use aquaculture, without increasing pollution and runoff, to reduce pressure on wild fish stocks.

More information:
Professor Terry Hughes, CoECRS and JCU, +61 (0)400 720 164
Jenny Lappin, CoECRS, +61 (0)417 741 638
Julian Cribb, CoECRS, +61 (0)418 639 245
Jim O’Brien, James Cook University Media Office, +61 (0)7 4781 4822 or 0418 892449

For full details of the Consensus Statement on Coral Reefs, go to:

CoECRS are proud sponsors of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, Cairns:  9-13 July 2012.

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